The 2 Most Common Ways We Offload Hurt

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Think about the last time someone truly upset you, and you reacted by not reacting. You brushed it off, rose above it and completely moved on with your life, end of story. Right?

Not quite.

What you experienced was an undeniable form of hurt, and that hurt doesn’t simply vanish just because you want it to, says vulnerability researcher Brené Brown. Brown has spent years studying and writing about vulnerability and shame, and she has found that anyone who experiences this type of hurt has to offload it somehow — it’s a matter of physics, she believes.

“For every action, there is an equal reaction,” Brown says, bringing up Newton’s Third Law of Motion. “So, when something happens and it emotionally juices us up, that doesn’t just dissipate into the air. For every time I feel hurt or feel ashamed or feel angry, I’m going to do something with that.”

As Brown explains during a conversation on OWN’s “SuperSoul Sunday,” the various ways we offload this hurt — through anger, avoidance, blame, etc. — can be broken down into two basic categories: chandeliering and stockpiling.

Chandeliering

If you’re the type to ignore and bury your emotions, you might become someone who subscribes to what Brown calls “chandeliering.” These people are at risk of flying off the handle when someone else unwittingly triggers the deeply buried hurt.

“They push it down so far that they think they’ve got control of it, and then a seemingly innocent comment or something happens and they just [burst], straight up to the chandelier,” Brown says. “They go into a rage.”

The innocent people on the receiving end of this outburst know just how devastating it can be.

“If you’ve ever worked with someone like that or were raised by a parent like that, that’s trauma-inducing,” Brown adds. “That’s eggshell environment.”

Stockpiling

Those who don’t get set off by an otherwise innocent comment tend to hold on tightly to their pain with the belief that they can manage it internally, which Brown refers to as “stockpiling.”

“They just stockpile it until their bodies say, ‘I can’t hold any more of this,'” she says.

The consequence of this reaction, Brown continues, is a physical one.

“The body keeps score and it always wins,” she points out. “So, it’s ‘I can’t sleep at night,’ depression, anxiety.”

So what should you do when you feel hurt? Brown explains the first step — which she calls “the reckoning” — in this video.  


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Faith Nouri is licensed to practice law in both the U.S. and Canadian Federal Courts. Ms. Nouri is an attorney at law in California, and a Barrister & Solicitor in British Columbia, Canada.

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